Lawsuit addressing mental health care in state prisons heading to trial

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A lawsuit accusing the state Department of Corrections of failure to provide adequate mental health care to inmates will head to trial this week. The class-action suit was first filed by a group of inmates back in 2014.

Attorneys for the inmates claim the inadequate mental health care violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. It argues mentally ill inmates’ conditions are often untreated and undiagnosed because of staff shortages.

The Alabama Department of Corrections is disputing the claims. The lawsuit and trial follow several outbreaks of violence across state prisons.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into conditions at state prisons earlier this year. The class-action status means a potential ruling will affect the nearly 25,000 people in the state prison system.

A non-jury trial is expected to be heard by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson on Monday, December 5th.

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